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Wendell Berry and Christian Community

One of our sanest writers is Wendell Berry. His contribution as a Christian essayist to the environmental movement has been unique and profound. His poetry, especially his Sabbaths collection, is evocative and wise. But it’s his fiction that has shaped my imagination, especially when it comes to Christian expressions of community and worship.

Berry prefers the word membership over community. Our word membership arises directly from the biblical text. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5). This member/body language is key to Paul’s understanding of Christian community in his major letters of Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians.

Berry imports this metaphor into his stories about his fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. The town itself is a membership. Each person participating in the larger life of the community — even if they don’t want to.

Read more by Pete Santucci HERE.

A Wendell Berry Epigraph

In a weekday adult education offering at St. Alban’s Church we’ve been reading a new book by theologian Ellen Davis (Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship and Ministry).  Chapter 4 begins with a quote from author, poet and conservationist  Wendell Berry:  There seems to be a law that when creatures have reached the level of consciousness, as men have, they must become conscious of creation; they must learn how they fit into it and what its needs are and what it requires of them, or else they pay a terrible penalty: the spirit of creation will go out of them, and they will become destructive; the very earth will depart from them and go where they cannot follow (“A Native Hill,” in The Long-Legged House). 

 Read more at The Daily Cup

Wendell Berry's "Manifesto" Inspires "16 Thoughts"

Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
In the steamy summer of 1948, E. B. White, on guest assignment for the New Yorker, spent a few days strolling his former hometown. The essay was released in 2000 as the slim volume, Here is New York, which The New York Times calls one of the ten best books ever written about the city.

One of White’s most perceptive observations, in my opinion, is this:

New York is peculiarly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along…without influencing the inhabitants; so that every event is, in a sense, optional, and the inhabitant is in the happy position of being able to choose his spectacle and so conserve his soul… I sometimes think that the only event that hits every New Yorker on the head is the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which is fairly penetrating — the Irish are a hard race to tune out, there are 500,000 of them in residence, and they have the police force right in the family.

I wonder if an unintended progress, of sorts, resulting from an event like the terrorist attacks on 9/11 — an event which penetrated every New Yorker so completely they’re still looking at the skies for wayward aircraft and checking skyscrapers for fire exits — is neighbors noticing each for a literal fear of dying.

It may be that the only good to come from each wave of tragedy we experience is the way neighbors share a conversation. Boston, West, Newtown — neighbors experiencing the same story. Neighbors making certain someone’s going to notice if the ground opens up beneath their feet.

Read all of Tamara Murphy's reflection at This Sacramental Life